2000; Rated PG; 90 Minutes
Mark Addy: Fred Flintstone
Stephen Baldwin: Barney Rubble
Jane Krakowski: Betty O'Shale
Kristen Johnston: Wilma Slaghoople
Joan Collins: Pearl Slaghoople
Produced by Joseph Barbera, Bart Brown, Bruce Cohen,
William Hanna, Dennis E. Jones, Steven Spielberg; Directed
by Brian Levant; Screenwritten by Deborah Kaplan,
Harry Elfont, Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr.; Based on the
animated series written by William Hanna and Joseph
by DAVID KEYES
no wonder that "The Flintstones" started out as a cartoon;
a world in which human beings live in the stone age and
use dinosaurs as household appliances is one incapable of
surviving a live action production. Many people have enough
difficulty in finding it plausible simply by description;
it revolves around a town called Bedrock, where families
live in houses made of stone, use chisels to write letters,
drive cars using their feet as pedals, wear animal skins,
and talk with the intellect and tone of an average modern
family. Certain details are not that hard to believe, but
the combination of them, among others, only makes this concept
more pretentious and bloated. In the series, which embodies
all of these qualities without a twinge of stability, the
least ridiculous element was the fact that the Flintstones
eventually went on to meet the Jetsons.
should tell this to the folks at Universal Pictures, who
have a naive impulse to believe that success can be achieved
by taking such a story and turning it into a live action
film, all while using the same perception as the cartoon.
They had done it once before, a few years ago, using John
Goodman, Rick Moranis and Rosie O'Donnel as the stars, but
anyone who has survived sitting through that mess could
easily defend my view. Someone should have learned from
this example, but no such luck; Universal was apparently
devoted to their adaptation, as a follow-up immediately
went into works and was planned for a release in 2000.
result is this dreadful, unfunny and infantile travesty
of a picture, without incentive, logic or common decency.
It follows the footsteps of its predecessor, the original
"Flintstones" film, on almost the same note: using the same
childish approach and pretentious substance. But the first
film, highlighted by an ensemble cast, is a masterpiece
compared to this. The change in casting is the first clue
of a downfall; take away The B-52s, Rick Moranis and Elizabeth
Taylor, then replace them with The Stones, Stephen Baldwin
and Joan Collins. 'Nuff said.
Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas" (no points for an original
title) is not a sequel, but a prequel to the commercially
successful 1994 film, one which takes place before Betty
became a Rubble and Wilma became a Flintstone. At the opening
of the picture, best buds (and roommates) Fred and Barney
are being tested for positions at the rock quarry, then
given jobs after passing their exams. That night, both of
them are at a nearby lake tossing rocks into the water when
a small alien spacecraft plummets from the sky and crash-lands
into a hill of sand. The alien inside--a midget-like entity
named Gazoo--has arrived to study the human mating rituals,
and chooses Barney and Fred as his experimental lab rats.
This event triggers an urge in both Fred and Barney to quickly
the tired Wilma Slaghoople (Kristen Johnston) watches Bedrock
from the balcony of her mother's secluded estate, where
she avoids the advances of ex-boyfriend Chip Rockefeller
and envies the simple life of those below (one of the movie's
repeating details is that she wants to go bowling). Tired
of living the high life, she goes down into town and befriends
a kind waitress named Betty O'Shale, who thinks that the
redhead is "cave-less" and offers to share her apartment.
One night, both are at work at the drive-in restaurant Bronto
King (get it?), when Fred and Barney pull into a space and
Betty comes to wait on them. They flirt with their waitress,
who immediately notes their advances and offers a day of
her and Wilma's company with these two men at the town carnival.
The rest is history, to some extent.
"Viva Rock Vegas" joke in the title is only referenced once
or twice by the picture's would-be villain after he realizes
his competition. When we realize that Fred is devoted to
Wilma, even though he's poor and she comes from a wealthy
family, Chip Rockefeller, in pursuit of Wilma's family fortune
because of his tremendous debt, invites the couples to the
opening of his new casino in (you guessed it) Rock Vegas.
It is there that the stability of these two couples' relationships
are tested, and whether or not they were made for each other.
point of the film is not to find out where these couples
are going (it should be obvious since the film is a prequel),
but to discover how dinosaur fart jokes and cave men dressing
up in drag can create so little amusement. The characters
are one-sided and self-absorbed, and their jokes lack a
punch of ambition (there is one wasted occurrence when a
man in the casino shouts out that he is slowly poisoning
dinosaur water supply so that the species will go extinct,
and the others simply laugh at him). If the first film was
like a misfire, than "The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas"
is like seeing someone shoot an unloaded gun.
scary thing is that some people actually laughed at these
jokes; the scarier thing is that none of them were children.
The poor, unfortunate youngsters who witnessed the film
during my screening were staring off into space like lost
cattle, obviously uncomfortable, as if they were waiting
for the end credits to start rolling (one amusing child
excused himself to the bathroom three or four times, and
15 minutes at a time). Children like going to movies, no
doubt, even if the films themselves are nothing to shout
about. Here is the first in a long time that even manages
to dishearten the small core audience it aims for.
David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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